15,000-acre Norton Point fire slowing in Washakie Wilderness

2011-08-15T12:00:00Z 2011-08-16T06:35:03Z 15,000-acre Norton Point fire slowing in Washakie Wilderness

By MARTIN KIDSTON

Gazette Wyoming Bureau

The Billings Gazette
August 15, 2011 12:00 pm  • 

CODY, Wyo. — After a lengthy period of inactivity, the Norton Point fire heated up again last week, sending smoke and ash into the Bighorn Basin.

Burning in the Washakie Wilderness southwest of Meeteetse, the fire has burned 15,000 acres since it was started by lightning on July 22.

The blaze had seen little growth since the beginning of August. But late last week, winds drove the fire back into heavy timber, allowing for additional growth.

“It was inactive for quite a while,” said public information officer Carl Jungck. “But just last Thursday, the conditions lined back up with the wind.”

On its most active day last week, the fire made another run up Caldwell Creek, burning around 1,700 acres. Since then, the blaze has slowed, with cooler temperatures in the forecast.

Jungck said six firefighters with the Shoshone National Forest remain on the scene, along with two other personnel who are monitoring the fire.

At the fire’s height last month, more than 120 personnel were assigned to the blaze, along with two helicopters and a Wyoming Hot Shot crew.

“We’re ramping down again due to inactivity,” Jungck said. “The fire has stayed where we though the fire would stay.”

Fire officials have managed the fire as a resource benefit, allowing it to burn inside the wilderness boundary.

Burning in dense stands of beetle-killed trees, the fire has advanced in fits and starts over the past month, growing rapidly one day before slowing down the next.

Jungck said fire crews continue to work the fire’s southern flank to ensure that it stays within the wilderness.

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